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One of the signs that companies have reached a certain level of maturity is when they roll out their first tiered channel program. In the case of Nimble Storage, that moment has arrived in the form of a new global partner program that provides more incentives and sales-enablement tools for the company’s best partners without giving them an undue pricing advantage over all other partners.

While still operating at a loss, Nimble Storage in fiscal 2015 generated revenue of $227.7 million, up 81 percent from the previous fiscal year. In addition, the company notes that deals involving the company’s hybrid storage platform are increasing in size.

Not surprisingly, the larger partners that drive those deals are demanding more return on their investment in Nimble Storage, said Alvin DaCosta, director of channel marketing for Nimble Storage. As such, partners that qualify for the top-tier partner certifications will receive access to market development funds and sales performance incentive funds based on goals and objectives set by Nimble Storage, he said.

Of course, now that Nimble Storage is gaining traction, maintaining that momentum is the next big challenge. Not only have the major storage vendors finally managed to employ flash memory technologies across their portfolios, pressure on margins is building.

On the upside, demand for storage systems doesn’t appear to be slackening, and Nimble Storage makes it simpler to manage those systems remotely via the cloud in a way that creates managed services opportunities for its partners.

When it comes to taking advantage of those opportunities, not all channel partners are equally proficient. The one thing that may do more to attract channel partners is a commitment from Nimble Storage to, at the very least, keep the playing field level in terms of pricing, no matter what partner is involved in any given deal.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.